Fall is a good time to target saugeye

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

The fall equinox brings with it the beginning of what should be some good fishing.

Fish put on the feed bags as the days get shorter and temperatures begin falling. Pleasant October days provide anglers with a chance to put more panfish filets in the freezer and lots of action if you are fishing for bass. One fish some anglers often overlook are saugeye, which are excellent tablefare.

This fish, which is a cross between a walleye and a sauger, is stocked by the millions in reservoirs. The best place to catch these fish in the Lima area is at Indian Lake. The lake is consistently ranked as a top saugeye destination for size and numbers. Recent DOW fish surveys show catch rates there are five times higher than the statewide average. Many of these fish measure 12-18 inches.

Shore fishing from the south bank and the Moundwood channel can produce good numbers of fish.

Another good spot for saugeye is Buckeye Lake. Spring fishing there was phenomenal, according to the DOW. The wildlife agency says that trend should continue this fall. Many of Buckeye Lake’s saugeye are longer than 21 inches.

“The fall is an excellent time to catch saugeye because they are feeding heavily to bulk up for the coming winter,” said Rich Zweifel, the DOW’s inland fisheries program administrator. “Saugeye are often caught in shallow water, so be sure to consider its clarity when choosing your fishing methods. A good time to fish for saugeye is at sunrise and sunset when they are most active.”

Rip-rap areas and large points with a gravel silt makeup are good spots to try. As for water clarity, in darker or muddy water saugeye tend to be shallower. Try black jigs and twister tails in those conditions. Use Rat-L-trap style lures and diving crankbaits. A stop-and-go method works well with these lures. Often the saugeye hits the bait on the pause. Like bass, saugeye have been known to hide underbrush or in lily pads.

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The Burntwood – Langenkamp wetland at Grand Lake St. Marys is expected to be complete in mid-2022. Ground was broken for the H2Ohio project last week.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) the 89-acre area is the fourth treatment train associated with nutrient reduction efforts at the lake. It consists of three wetlands, several acres of planted trees and a large buffer of planted grasses that will slow the flow of water, trap, filter and remove excess pollutant before they can run into the lake.

Total cost of the project is estimated at $1.5 million and includes a $1.1 million grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission for Clean Ohio Conservation funds to the Grand Lake St. Marys Lake Facilities Authority. The property purchased was known as the Langenkamp Family Preserve.

Lima’s Matt Huffman, Ohio Senate president, said of the project: “Grand Lake St. Marys State Park represents the best of Ohio’s great outdoors. This is an important part of what the Ohio General Assembly has done to fund clean water projects like H2Ohio which in addition to protecting and improving the water quality helps preserve our wetlands and wildlife.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said, “Algal blooms have been a problem on Grand Lake St. Marys for more than a decade, but this new H2Ohio wetland will help improve water quality over time.” He added, “The goal is not only to improve the health of the lake, but to also enhance the quality of life for those who live here as well as improve the experience for those who come to visit.”

“This project is especially important to people who call Grand Lake St. Marys home, a community that has seen more than its share of algal blooms,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We’re excited that we have found a nature-based solution to that problem. The wetland will improve water quality, and allow more people to enjoy the boating, swimming, and fishing the lake has to offer.”

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The ODNR is hoping to draw nesting pipe plovers to the northern shores of Lake at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. The agency is closing a 900-foot section of the beach on Nov. 1 to public access to protect the various plant and animal species on this unique shoreline.

Interest in piping plovers grew during the spring and summer as a pair of these birds nested at Maumee Bay State Park. This drew numerous birders and others to see them since Ohio has not recorded a piping plover nesting in more than 80 years. The nesting area was closed off, but the birds were visible to the public.

The plover’s preferred nesting areas typically occur on frequently visited beaches. The small migratory shore birds sandy beaches with natural vegetation and cobble to successfully raise their broods of three to four chicks each year. Because these habitat requirements often occur at publicly accessible beaches, conservation officials must often intervene for successful nesting to occur.

ODNR is seeking public participation with this important effort by encouraging visitors to remain on designated trails and observe posted signs.


Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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